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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The “Tween Months”

Between the interview and the results

First, thanks for the comments!  Audible, thanks those are great topics, I will definitely be doing posts on them! Thanh, I will try to get some of the daily stuff up as I can see how it might be helpful as well.  Maybe I will put a separate page for it or something.  I will keep it short and simple but try to put out as many things as I can think of.

Now on with the show….

So after you nail the interview, you will have to spend the next couple of months waiting (I interviewed on Feb 13th and got the results on April 9th). 

The entire 2 months is screwed up! Time passes both quickly and slowly.  At times you feel like you are never going to get this stupid letter and at others it feels like life is moving way too fast.  When you have a lot going on with both you and your kids it can make for brutal 2 months!  The hardest part, as a Family JET, is that it puts the whole family in limbo.  But, such is the beast.

Here are some helpful hints to deal with that time.

Be better off no matter what happens.

    If you get rejected be prepared to carry on with life.  I tried to line up a Job and a some post graduate studies just incase JET didn’t happen. 
    If you do get accepted, things are going to happen extremely fast. Your life will be completely insane (if it isn’t already). You will have only have another 3 months to do everything.  It is not enough time…especially if you have young kids!  So you might as well start getting ready now.  It will help you even if you don’t get in.  I really cannot emphasize this enough, you need to start preparing as early as you can!!!!!

Get your papers in order.

    Once you receive notice of being short listed (thats what they call it) you will have about 2 weeks to accept and hand in your Health Certificate and a copy of your passport (I received an email on April 9th and everything needed to be in by April 23rd). I was caught without a doctors appointment and an expired passport.  I had to scramble big time to get both done.  Don’t let it happen to you, it’s not fun!
    Make an appointment for the doctors early (Check the local JET website for the timeline and if its like the Canadian or American website with little or no detail, ask the JET Coordinator in your area what the timeline might be. I would suggest not asking about when acceptance letters might be sent out but ask what date candidates will have to send in their replies by, make your appointment for at least 2 weeks - 10 days prior to this). 
    I spoke with the JET Coordinator in Toronto and she has put up a little better calendar on the Consulate Website (http://www.toronto.ca.emb-japan.go.jp/english/culture-education/jet-program/faq-dates.html). This only applies to Torontonians directly and doesn't give specific dates but it will give you a pretty good idea. Here is her advice about the doctors appointment:
    “ In general, it’s a good idea for candidates to try to book an appointment for a full physical for sometime between early April and mid-April making sure to allow enough time for any lab results that need to be done (blood work, urinalysis, x-ray…etc) and recorded on the health certificate. The Health certificates and the reply form are for those that are offered a spot on the final short-list after the interviews in February. Interview results are usually sent out early April.”
  Make sure you tell the receptionist you will need the doctor to fill out a form as some doctors require you to book an extra time slot for this. If you are like me and in a big city, getting a doctors appointment can be quite difficult in a short amount of time. The doctor will need to do a urine test, have chest X-rays taken and possibly do a TB test and there could be more this year. It will be very stressful trying to take care of everything only after you get the email. I got my results and a fully completed paper the day before it was due.  This adds a lot of extra stress into a families life and a little forethought and planning can ease the situation quite a bit. 
    The passport thing (in Canada anyway) can be worked out within the 2 weeks usually without problem but again if you can eliminate that worry early, why not!  It can cost extra money and require a return trip to pick up the passports to guarantee they are in your hand before the due date. Again, you don’t need more things do to.  The way travel is now, you and your family will need passports to just cross the border (sorry for the Canada - USA reference here) so you and your family will probably need one even if you don’t get into JET so take care of that detail now.

Start going through all your Stuff
    We basically did the whole “Clean Sweep” thing.  Get rid of the excess stuff you have around the house (we still had unopened wedding gifts in their original boxes from 8 years ago in the basement).  And, if you can, start packing away some things you wont need or wont be able to take with you. It is one of the most helpful things you can do.

Buy some large storage bins or keep your eye out for sales.
    You will need them.  We ended up filling 8 of them in the 2 months before we left. And with kids you can always use another storage bin.

Do you have enough clothes for the job?

    I am a total jock and had no clothes suitable for being a ALT in a Japanese School. Now, I wouldn’t buy anything yet but it is good to know what you need and what you don’t. (Tips on buying clothes later)

Start looking into summer programs for your kids.

    We left Canada on July 31, so we enrolled our daughter in some city run programs during June and July that would keep her occupied and having fun while we would be cleaning, packing, and going insane.
    This was by far the best thing we could have done for ourselves!!!!!  It gave us from 9 to 4 everyday, where we weren’t stressing about how to keep a 4 year old enjoying life while still getting things done.

Start thinking about what you want to do with your Big Stuff. 

    Will you sell your car(s) or put them in storage? (What will your insurance needs be then?)
    What will you do with any furniture you have? Check to see if their are friends or relatives that might be able to use / store it for you.
    We were extremely lucky in that didn’t own or rent a home at the time, (living with relatives), but if you do then you’ll need to figure what will happen with that.

How long will you stay?
    The JET Programme now allows for up to 5 years on the program if everything goes right. Make sure you have that conversation!!! Discuss all the possibilities / pros & cons because there are a lot of them.

Other Family JET’s out there I’d love to hear what you did to prepare.  What helpful tips you have.

Although I may not be posting everyday, I am checking for comments, so if you have questions let me know and I will get to them ASAP.


  1. I totally agree about starting the great purge as soon as possible. You might also want to think hard about what you actually want to bring with you to Japan.

    I really wanted to make the move to Japan as easy as possible for my kid. I ended up bringing my child’s bedding (vacuum sealed), some favorite light weight used books, a few stuffed animals, and a plastic potty and bathroom stool to bring a little touch of home. Simple stuff that my kid recognized from home that was light weight and I wouldn’t feel bad leaving in Japan when we moved on. Plus, if you’ve never shopped for potty training stuff in Japan, you’d be shocked what a chunk of plastic can run.

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  3. Thanks for the great tips. Your site has been helpful so far and really appreciate your efforts. Like the new look. I almost panic when I realized how little time we as a family to get ourselves ready. Just got an interview notice a couple of days. Any additional hints for the interview as a mature JET?

  4. Thanks for doing this blog! My family and I are from Winnipeg and my husband just received notification of an interview. We haven't been finding much out there regarding what to expect coming with kids. We have a 3 year old son and another one due in March. I am sure that we will be throwing a lot of questions at you in the coming months, especially once we know if we have been selected.

  5. Just had the interview last week and think it went well. Now the wait and preparation for the possibility of placement. Just wondering if your family need to book for a health check too. Do you know anything about that?

  6. How old was your child (children?) when you arrived in Japan? I am just wondering how you handled vaccinations. I have read over the JET forums, but anything I found only pertained to school aged kids and families coming from the US which has a slightly different vaccination schedule from Canada. Our youngest will be 5 months and right in the middle of 4 different vaccination series that he will need the last iteration of a month after we arrive. Any insight on whether the vaccinations given are the same, costs, etc. would be very helpful!

  7. My fiance and I are from Jamaica and we are now awaiting the results. I was told that the results were suppose to be out yesterday April 08, 2011, but i haven't heard anything as yet. I'm keeping my fingers cross as I believe everything will work out for the best. We are also planning to do a quick wedding before i leave, and he will join me in about a months time. Not only do I have to make appointments for the medical, but also appointment at the US embassy in my country as neither of us has a US Visa at this time. I'm just waiting to get the results and then we can start the ball rolling.
    April 10, 2011 2:52 AM